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The Role of Content Marketing in Semantic SEO

Jul 19, 2021
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The latest episode of Hack My Growth will be discussing the role content marketing plays in semantic search. We will talk about the importance of creating content for users and machines, why semantic search has changed SEO, and what you can do to create better content today.

 

Video Transcript: 

In the latest episode of Hack My Growth, we're going to be looking at the role of content marketing within the era of semantic search.

Hey, thanks for checking out this video. If it's your first time watching, or maybe you have been watching for a while and not yet subscribed, please do so now.

We create new content each week to help you get the most out of your digital marketing activities. As I said, in the brief opener, we're going to be talking about content marketing and the role it plays within semantic search. All right, let's go.

The Role of Content Marketing in Semantic SEO

What is Content Marketing?

Let's get into the role of content marketing in semantic SEO, and quickly give a brief definition of what content marketing is so that everybody here is on the same page.

Content marketing is a type of marketing that involves the creation and sharing of online material. So, we're talking videos, blogs, social media, and more. It doesn't explicitly promote a brand, but it's intended to stimulate interest in a product or service, and this comes from Oxford Languages.

In short, it's the content you create to help inform current or potential customers so you can grow your business. You're driving people to your website, trying to connect with them, and educate them towards the sale and build that interest.

Why does it matter to SEO? 

So, why does this matter to SEO as a whole? Now we've maybe heard that saying content is king, but what does that actually mean? On one side, search engines need content so they can understand what a page is about.

A crawler is going to go and read that content, and it's going to piece together that information to try to understand some meaning. And today's semantic crawlers and semantic SEO actually allows them to understand quite a bit of that meaning and understand the context much deeper.

Now, users use search engines to find the content that matches their interests, so you can see that the content actually sits in the middle. On one side, we've got the machines on it. On the other side, we've got the humans, and the content is really what brings them together.

The content is indexed by the search engines, and then, the users use those search engines to uncover the content that they need to help them either answer a question, learn something new, or really do whatever they're trying to do on the internet at that time.

How does it impact Semantic Search?

So, how does this impact semantic search? How can content play a role? First, we need to really understand what semantic search is trying to do. Semantic search is an attempt by search engines to generate the most accurate results possible by understanding these three core things:

  1. Searcher intent
  2. Query context
  3. The relationship between the words

This information is sourced from an article from the Search Engine Journal, if you want to learn more, I highly recommend you check that out. We've also got a number of videos on semantic search on this channel, which you can also watch and learn more about.

1. Searcher Intent

As we were saying, search engines are getting smarter. They're understanding the results in a very different way, they're using search intent, context, and relationships between the words in order to go deeper. As you can see, this will impact your content in a pretty huge way.

Let's take this a little bit further. When we talk about search intent, this is one of the core aspects of SEO today, and we need to understand these questions:

  • What is a user trying to solve?
  • What content are they looking for and what formats do they expect?
  • What is the user expecting from the search?
  • What intent are they going in with?

This plays a big role because everybody has a bias, and your searchers are coming in with a specific intent trying to solve a specific problem. If you can understand that, it'll help define the type of content that you need to create, and the types of content that the search engines are expecting for a query based on what your users are wanting.

You can type different queries into the search engine. You may ask one question, and you might get a lot of video content. You may ask something else, and you might get no video content. You might do something else, and you may get a number of knowledge boxes, or other things pulled from the knowledge graph.

So, depending on the intent, the content and the expectations of that content are going to shift. We really need to understand that before we start creating content because we might be creating the wrong type of content, and it's going to be much harder to rank that content when the search engines and the users are expecting something else based on their intent.

2. Query Context

Query context plays a huge role. Good content in the wrong context is going to fail every single time. Every industry is different and your users have unique problems that they're trying to solve. The one size fits all approach, like anybody says, just start blogging more, or you should only create videos, or you should only do this, does not work. I'm a big believer in being a master of one thing and moving onto the next, but the reality is, you need to understand what the right thing should be and a one size fits all approach does not work.

You need to understand things, such as:

  • Who your users are?
  • What do they do?
  • What industry are they in?
  • What level of job do they have?
  • Where are they?
  • What is unique about their perspective?
  • When they're searching, what's the context of their search?

For example, somebody searching for legal advice with a law background is very different from somebody searching for legal advice because they recently got a DUI. As a result, the types of content are going to be different and the context as a whole is very different. One is a lawyer may be looking to further their career, while the other person is looking for the help of a lawyer. So, we need to understand that and the related concepts that help define the understanding.

We also need to understand the types of words and other things that are going in around the things they're searching for, things that they've done in the past, maybe the paths that they have taken, who they are, and their perspective on the situation. Context is today's king. It's so important because depending on the context, the results are going to change drastically.

3. Word Relationships

Last but not least, word relationship. Semantic SEO has a lot to do with word relationships and understanding how all of those words fit together. After we understand the context, we have to choose the right words. Search engines can understand the relationship between words like never before, and they also understand prepositions, so they understand words like: going to somewhere or coming from somewhere.

There's a lot of different cases that we've shown before in some other videos, where Google is leveraging natural language to understand and show those differences because again, it can play a big role.

One of those examples is a search query about people from Brazil who want to know if they would need a visa before coming to the United States. Previously, before semantic search, it was actually showing a lot of stuff about U.S. travelers going into Brazil, which is actually the reverse of what the search query was looking for.

So, understanding those relationships, like the prepositions to and from, and how it's connected with the sentence, they are now able to shift the result. They can now serve users who are in Brazil looking to understand how they can come to the United States, if they need a visa, and all that.

So, word relationships play a big role. We need to understand the specific topics and the contents that our users use, how those different words are used together, and the meaning behind the sentences and the queries that are being asked.

As we can see, these three things play a huge role, not just in semantic search, but also when you're designing content.

You need to make sure that you are:

  • Being very clear in the word choices you're using
  • Connecting those concepts together (creating the right context)
  • Understanding the intent of the user

Content for Users and Machines

When creating content today, we have to think about our two different audiences, both the user and the machine. A lot of people create content just for SEO purposes; we need to blog because we want the crawlers to come back, we don't really care about the blog content or the quality of the content - we just need to get more of it. That's not a good idea.

Your content always has to serve two audiences, the user and the machine.

You want to make sure that you're going to have content that if a user finds it, they're actually going to see your business in a good light. It's not just about ranking, getting some SERP visibility, but it's also about driving user engagement.

That's really the core of SEO, it's not just optimization for the search results, but also driving relevant traffic and making sure that we connect people. And that's what Google wants, they want content that's going to engage users.

"That's really the core of SEO, it's not just optimization for the search results, but also driving relevant traffic and making sure that we connect people."

We've talked a lot in the SEO world about user experience metrics and how much those play a role. I think they play a pretty large role because Google wants satisfied customers. When they have satisfied customers, they get more users, which means they can charge more for ad revenue, which is really what they want to do in the end run. So, we have to serve two audiences.

You have to follow the golden rule; write for people first, then optimize for the machines.

There's a number of awesome tools out there that you can use to help expand your content further, to create deeper meaning and context, and to add things like structured data. We've talked about that a lot here, as well as, building knowledge graphs, and all of that really cool tech stuff underneath. However, if your content doesn't serve people on the top layer, it's never going to do what you need it to do on the machine layer as well. So, make sure that you write for people first, then you optimize for machines.

Three simple steps to better content creation 

So here are three simple steps to creating better content:

1. Know your audience

The first thing you have to do is really know your audience. Not just in a conceptual way, but actually know them, know their demographics, their psychographics, understand what drives them emotionally, get to know them, get to really walk in their shoes so that you can create the types of content they need and they're expecting.

2. Know their intent

The second thing you need to do is uncover intent. Know what they're searching for, why they're searching for it, and the content they expect. When you do that, you're going to be able to create things that are going to serve them, and you're going to be able to create things that have deep meaning and deep context when it comes to the queries that they're looking into - and the search engines are going to like that.

3. Create content for people first

And the last thing you do is you create the content for people first and then you optimize for the machines. You go in and optimize it for SEO, add those other layers of structured data, context optimization, and leverage all the tools on the market to help you understand how to take that topic even further, and add these other elements into it.

When you do these steps, you're going to create content that the search engines today, the semantic search engines, are really going to enjoy because they're going to be able to understand what you're talking about. They will then, be able to match that with users who have those specific intents, which will drive the value of your traffic up, it's going to get you more users who are right for your site that should be taking the actions that you're looking for your organic traffic to take.

If you want to learn more about how to optimize for semantic search and understand it at a deeper level, not just from creating content, but also understanding how we mark it up so that the machines actually do understand it, we have a course for you. It's How to Optimize for Semantic Search, and it's a simplified approach to these advanced SEO techniques. We will talk you through building knowledge graphs, entities, link data, structure data, and all of that.

You can sign up at learn.simplifiedsearch.net.

I hope you guys learned something new in this video today. If you've got any questions, please comment below. We'd love to continue that conversation with you. And until next time, happy marketing.

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Ryan Shelley, CPBI

By Ryan Shelley, CPBI

Ryan is passionate about helping companies make a more personal connection online with their customers and prospects. He is a regular contributor to Search Engine Land, the largest and most popular SEO news site on the web. His works have also been featured on the HubSpot Blog, Business2Community and by LinkedIn Marketing Solutions.

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